United States District Court, D. Arizona
DOUGLAS L. RAYES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Rodney Burky seeks review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(Commissioner) denying his application for supplemental
security income and disability insurance benefits. Because
the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is
supported by substantial evidence and is not based on legal
error, the Commissioner’s decision is affirmed.
is 49 years old and has a ninth grade education. (A.R. 33.)
He previously worked as donation taker, groundskeeper, car
washer, stone polisher, and painter. Burky has been diagnosed
as bipolar and schizophrenic. He last worked in 2011.
(Id. at 221.)
August 29, 2012, Burky applied for disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income, alleging
disability beginning June 25, 2012. (Id. at 15.) On
June 17, 2014, he appeared with his attorney and testified at
a hearing before the ALJ. A vocational expert also testified.
October 14, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision that Burky was
not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.
The Appeals Counsel denied Burky’s request for review
of the hearing decision, making the ALJ’s decision the
Commissioner’s final decision. On September 28, 2015,
Burky sought review by this Court.
district court reviews only those issues raised by the party
challenging the ALJ’s decision. See Lewis v.
Apfel, 236 F.3d 503, 517 n.13 (9th Cir. 2001). The court
may set aside the Commissioner’s disability
determination only if the determination is not supported by
substantial evidence or is based on legal error. Orn v.
Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial
evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance,
and relevant evidence that a reasonable person might accept
as adequate to support a conclusion considering the record as
a whole. Id. In determining whether substantial
evidence supports a decision, the court must consider the
record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a
“specific quantum of supporting evidence.”
Id. As a general rule, “[w]here the evidence
is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, one
of which supports the ALJ’s decision, the ALJ’s
conclusion must be upheld.” Thomas v.
Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002) (citations
Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process
determine whether a claimant is disabled for purposes of the
Social Security Act, the ALJ follows a five-step process. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). The claimant bears the burden of
proof on the first four steps, but at step five, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner. Tackett v. Apfel, 180
F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999).
first step, the ALJ determines whether the claimant is
engaging in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(i). If so, the claimant is not disabled and
the inquiry ends. Id. At step two, the ALJ
determines whether the claimant has a “severe”
medically determinable physical or mental impairment. §
404.1520(a)(4)(ii). If not, the claimant is not disabled and
the inquiry ends. Id. At step three, the ALJ
considers whether the claimant’s impairment or
combination of impairments meets or medically equals an
impairment listed in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of 20 C.F.R. Pt.
404. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). If so, the claimant is
automatically found to be disabled. Id. If not, the
ALJ proceeds to step four. At step four, the ALJ assesses the
claimant’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) and determines whether the claimant is
still capable of performing past relevant work. §
404.1520(a)(4)(iv). If so, the claimant is not disabled and
the inquiry ends. Id. If not, the ALJ proceeds to
the fifth and final step, where he determines whether the
claimant can perform any other work based on the
claimant’s RFC, age, education, and work experience.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v). If so, the claimant is not
disabled. Id. If not, the claimant is disabled.
one, the ALJ found that Burky meets the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31,
2013, and that he has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since June 25, 2012. (A.R. 17.) At step two, the ALJ
found that Burky has the following severe impairments:
bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, panic disorder with
agoraphobia, and antisocial personality disorder.
(Id.) At step three, the ALJ determined that Burky
does not have an impairment or combination ...